|Israeli Men Dodge Draft
One in four Israeli men eligible to serve in the Israel Defense Forces is dodging the draft, according to figures released by the army. This figure is the highest in the history of the state.
Statistics revealed on Monday show that in the 2006 intake, just 75 percent of eligible men signed up to fight in the national service. Historically, some 80 percent of those summoned elected to serve in the military. Israeli authorities worry that the rate of participation for 2007 will be even more dismal. Haaretz reported on Tuesday that the entering class for August 2007 is the “smallest of the past several years.”
The military draft has been essential to the perpetuation of Jewish statehood, and the new figures are bad news for Israelis. Although 75 percent of eligible men signing up for military service would constitute a phenomenal rate in most countries, it is a disappointing figure in Israel. Surrounded by hostile enemies and possessing a comparatively small population, the nation has historically relied on mandatory military service for nearly all eligible men and women.
The reason behind decreasing enlistment numbers is that more and more eligible individuals are exploiting exemptions in order to dodge military service. The Telegraph reported that “some young Israelis travel overseas beyond the reach of the army authorities, and there is some evidence of people pretending to have mental illness to avoid service.”
“Israeli society has to condemn draft dodgers,” one officer said. “This is not just a military matter, but a social issue as well. Those who do not shoulder their share of the burden have to be made to feel ashamed.”
This latest revelation is another discouraging sign among many for Israel. Jewish statehood has long depended on the willingness of patriotic young men and women to join the army and defend the nation. The fact that an increasing number of young conscripts are exploiting exemptions to avoid joining shows a weakening devotion to Jewish statehood among Israel’s young people.
With war and mass-violence looming on the horizon, news about the decreasing participation in Israel’s military could hardly come at a worse time. For more on Israel’s future, read “Israel’s Bleeding Wound.”